According to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), small-scale solar projects—defined as solar installations that are connected to the grid, but less than 1 megawatt (MW) in size—are increasing, sometimes by a lot, in a number of states.
The EIA report lists the top eight states in terms of total small-scale solar capacity, four of which are in the Northeast. These states are California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Florida.
It also lists the top eight states in terms of small-scale solar capacity additions between 2019 and 2020, three of which are in the Northeast. These are California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
While Illinois is not in the top 8 in terms of total small-scale solar capacity, it ranks third in states with the most small-scale solar capacity additions from 2019 to 2020. Conversely, Maryland, which ranked seventh in total capacity, doesn’t make the top 8 list in terms of solar capacity additions, given its somewhat flat growth in 2020.
Specifics from some of the states include:
- California led the nation in both categories, with a total capacity of 10.6 gigawatts. The state also accounted for 31% of the total small-scale solar capacity added between 2019 and 2020.
- Texas added 423 MW, growing by 63% from the previous year (from 670 MW in 2019 to 1,093 MW in 2020).
- Illinois added 309 MW in 2020, increasing its capacity from 206 MW to 515 MW.
- Florida added 281 MW (growing 57%), from 492 MW in 2019 to 773 MW in 2020.
The reasons for growth from state to state vary, according to the EIA report. State policies, such as renewable and clean energy standards, as well as some incentives, account for the majority of growth in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. This helps to overcome the less-favorable natural solar resources in this region.
In Florida, the removal of restrictions of leased solar systems has encouraged much of the growth in the state. In addition, net metering and renewable buy-back programs in the form of bill credits from utilities are considered to be driving forces in the growth of small-scale solar in Texas. The state also offers a property tax exemption for the added home value from rooftop solar installations.